BLOG: Summary of #achper2017
25th Jan 17
The 30th ACHPER International Conference held at the University of Canberra from January 16-18 2017 provided 320 teachers, researchers and health, sport and recreation professionals from across Australia and overseas with a dynamic and highly engaging professional learning experience.
The conference theme – Participating in an Active and Healthy Life – Valuing the Participant Voice – prompted us to engage with people as learners and actively seek their voice to inform our work and improve the achievement of learning outcomes as well as their lives.
As a warm up to the official Conference opening, some delegates took the opportunity to pre-register and mingle with keynotes and presenters at the ‘Summer by the Lake’ social function at the picturesque The Boat House venue.
Day 1 of the formal Conference program was kicked off on Monday morning in a TED-style keynote presentation format led by international guest Sean Slade from ASCD (USA). His presentation, ‘along the lifespan’, highlighted the role of lifelong learning for lifelong health and growth and development. Sean discussed how Physical Education is the one subject, that when planned well and planned deliberately, can educate the whole child and is key in teaching children social, emotional, physical and cognitive skills including problem solving, decision making and resilience.
Professor Donna Cross from the University of WA and the Telethon Kids Institute followed with her keynote which provided compelling data linking mortality and social connection. She spoke about the effect of positive relationships, with schools and the teacher equation powerful in the relationship effect, with statistics particularly citing the positive difference Physical Education teachers make on children’s wellbeing. A powerful message from Donna was to ‘bank time’ and build relationships with every child to encourage healthy attachment.
The final keynote on the first day of the program was Professor Phillip Morgan from the University of Newcastle who spoke about empowering girls through physical activity and father involvement through the success of the ‘DADEE ‘ program. His insightful and entertaining presentation highlighted the benefits of father-daughter relationships, and how it is important to be an ‘equalist’ parent and remove the gender jacket.
The day then moved into the highly inspiring and diverse 200+ elective sessions and over 30 trade exhibits, culminating with the World Strides Welcome Happy Hour which provided delegates with an informal networking opportunity and much needed relief from the hot Canberra weather!
Day 2 offered an equally inspiring range of sessions, providing delegates with the opportunity to learn and make a difference to the lives of the students they teach. A real highlight on the Tuesday was the 24th Fritz Duras Memorial Lecture presented by Professor Richard (Dick) Telford AM. His lecture, ‘Physical Education and Sport. Clear and Present Benefits’, contained anecdotes of his life in Melbourne and his phenomenal journey with the Diploma of PE that began his lifelong commitment to physical activity. Dick’s presentation built upon his established research with the Lifestyle of our Kids (LOOK) longitudinal intervention study which delves deep into influences and outcomes of sustained PE in primary schools. Results from the first trial showed that students do better in standardised tests like NAPLAN in schools with specialist PE – a clear case to show policy makers and principals to advocate for quality HPE.
Some delegates were able to enjoy the tour of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) as part of the Conference program which delivered many interesting and fun facts culminating with an interactive element. Others enjoyed the ACHPER Gala social event at the National Gallery of Australia, where attendees were able to peruse the Aboriginal art gallery prior to celebrating with a night of fine dancing. The presentation of three academic achievement awards at the Gala event highlighted the outstanding work of young researchers in furthering the work of ACHPER in the promotion of the HPE profession.
The final day of the 30th ACHPER International Conference commenced with keynote Professor Peter Hastie from Auburn University in the USA talking about the Sport Education Model and how ‘no-one is hidden, everyone is participating’ in small-sided games in Sport Education. He presented the idea of multi-generational learning and community links engaging seniors in school PE and as instructional leaders.
Professor Damian Farrow from Victoria University followed with his keynote on modified sport and how it needs to be more stringently applied at the community level. He addressed how modification is not just for beginners but children in general, and how it leads to more engagement, skill learning and enjoyment. Damian encouraged HPE professionals to be modification advocates in community sport - ‘If we can get the conditions of the game right for learning and engagement, kids will learn’.
The final keynote was Gayelene Clews, performance psychologist, Olympian, author and educator on the role of sport and exercise and the benefits on the brain. Her enthralling presentation captured the room as she outlined the connection between the testing of children and adrenaline production resulting in psychologically and physically burnt out kids. She stated that emotional intelligence is vital for our children, and technology in many ways is hijacking that reward high.
The Conference Plenary signalled the conclusion of the 30th ACHPER International Conference, but not before some interesting questions were fired to our distinguished panel of keynotes and special guests. ACHPER was pleased to announce Canberra as the host city for the 31st ACHPER International Conference in 2019.